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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Freelance Toolbox

Join the new SPJ freelance community

By Michael Fitzgerald

Welcome to the (official) freelance community!

You’re taking a bold step along with SPJ. The freelance community is a virtual chapter that meets online, linking SPJ members who are freelancers, no matter their locale.

The most powerful thing about SPJ is its breadth. No other organization takes on the biggest issues facing journalism from so many angles and with so many people. Now we can more easily put SPJ’s power to work on the things we care about as individuals who make a living creating great journalism.

We want this to be the most useful place for freelance journalists on the Web. To get there, we need your help. Form communities within the community — freelance editors and copy editors, freelance photographers and broadcast journalists, freelance social media journalists, freelance data journalists. Whatever your specialty, it’s easy now for you to connect through SPJ with people who do the work you do.

Be a squeaky wheel; the community site gives us an oil can to take on problems.

As you’ll see, our community site (spj.org/freelance.asp) offers much of the great features on the previous SPJ site geared toward freelancers. But it also has new features like a calendar of events, a revamped jobs board and community forums.

These won’t work without you. Please take the plunge and post a question or comment on a topic of interest to you. As you’ll see, our community is in beta testing but needs more input from you.

We’ve done a lot of work, but we won’t be done until we have your feedback. What do you like? What’s missing? What haven’t we thought of?

Weigh in. Our community is only as good as what we each put into it. Together, we can make SPJ an even better organization for freelance journalists.

FAQ about the freelance community

Are there rules to what I can post?

Like any professional community, posts should mostly be about the job. Stick to language you’d use on a family show, as a rule. This is a members-only board, and posts should stay that way. If for some reason you want to share a post with someone who is not a member of SPJ, it’d be a best practice to ask permission from the group.

Are the forums moderated?

We intend for the forums to be loosely moderated. We would like to see individual communities select one or two people to serve as community coordinators, who can represent the point of view in any community-wide discussions.

Why would there be community-wide discussions?

Because the community will still have formal responsibilities within SPJ, such as filing reports to the national leadership, developing partnerships and freelance resources, and creating articles for Quill. We expect that leaders from within the community will hold meetings to discuss these issues. These may be Google Hangouts on the community site, but in the interest of getting work done, the floor may not be open at all times to every individual member.

Are there still officers?

The freelance community still needs a leadership structure akin to that of chapters. We must have a chairman (or president), and ideally a vice chairman, a secretary, a communications head and a board-like structure that includes responsibilities for resources like the Freelance Guide, the jobs board, member services, outreach, internal communications, partnerships and other roles as they are identified.

Are there term limits for officers?

There have not been term limits for the officers of the Freelance Committee, of which I’m currently chairman. As we move to a community, we have proposed term limits, with officers serving for one year with the option to be re-elected for up to two additional one-year terms. Not more than three terms can be served successively.

When will we hold officer elections?

We plan to engage in online elections tied to the annual SPJ national conference schedule.

Will you charge dues, like chapters do?

At this time we have decided not to charge dues.

So, come, join us. Excelsior!

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